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Little Relief For Primary Care In Budget 24

There has been little relief for primary care practices in Budget 24 according to leading healthcare provider ProCare.

Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at ProCare says: On the surface the $2.12 billion headline figure that has been made available for primary care and public health over the next four years sounds impressive. However, when you break that down over four years, that’s roughly $530 million per annum.

“When you read even further into the documentation it’s clear that this figure isn’t just for primary care – it’s shared across mental health, community providers, ambulance services and aged care for example, which means that figure is spread extremely thin.

“Additionally, natural population growth and our aging population will soak most of this money up because of the way our health contracts are written,” points out Norwell.

“We knew Budget 24 wasn’t going to provide a lot of relief for primary care, however, this doesn’t make the financial pressures primary care is facing go away. Nor does it address the fact that workforce costs and other inflationary pressures continue to outpace the funding practices are receiving,” continues Norwell.

“Today’s announcement suggests Budget 25 will not provide significant additional relief for general practices, which means it will make it even harder for patients to access healthcare and place further pressure on already stretched secondary care,” she continues.

Prescription Fees

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Today’s Budget also fulfilled the election pledge of reinstating the $5 prescription fee for everyone except community service card holders and their dependents, under 14s and people aged over-65.

“This announcement was clearly signalled as part of the election campaign, so comes as no surprise. While we’re not entirely supportive of the move, as it will have an impact on a number of whānau, we understand the rational that the resulting savings will help fund ongoing provision of essential medicines,” points out Norwell.

Pay Equity

Today’s Budget also contained an announcement that it ‘retains funding in contingency in anticipation of pay equity settlements being reached’…and that the Government is ‘prepared to make fair and reasonable contributions to supporting non-Government healthcare providers to deliver ongoing services, but we will not be committing to specific funding amounts in advance of settlements being reached’.

“We are pleased to see that provisions for pay equity settlements have been considered in today’s Budget. While primary care practices are extremely supportive of paying their nurses more money, the reality is that practices can not afford to carry these costs without additional funding. It is imperative that the government takes this into account,” concludes Norwell.

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